New Super-Man #1 review
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Pencils: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inker: Richard Friend
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Variant Cover: Benard Chang
Right off the bat, let’s just address the elephant in the room. Race and gender swapping established characters seems to be the new trend in comics. If everyone else is jumping off a bridge, no reason that Superman can’t get in on the action also, right? We’ve had a black Superman, a red and blue Superman (the 90’s were weird), even a Nazi Superman (blame Grant Morrison’s drugs), so why not give a Chinese Superman a shot? In fact, why hasn’t then been done before, even in a one shot? Not only is there an Asian writer on board, but long time Superman writer Gene Luen Yang is in charge of this series. So what does our Chinese writer have in store for our Chinese Superman? Oops…I meant Super-Man. Sorry about that.
“Made in China: Part One” features Kong Kenan, who couldn’t be further from Clark Kent. He’s a not too bright high school bully that only acts in his own self interest. After he survives an encounter with Shanghai supervillain Blue Condor, a young reporter named Laney Lan shares the footage, which goes viral and turns Kong into an internet celebrity. This gets the attention of a secret Chinese organization which promises to give him the powers of the greatest American superhero: Superman. Thinking he can finally earn his dad’s respect, as well as gain the attention of Laney Lan, what teenager could turn that down?
Look, you’ve read this story before. It’s just another cliche superhero origin which takes elements of not only Superman, but also Spider-Man and Captain America. That being said, I’m a sucker for superhero origins. Let’s be honest most comic series are usually downhill from there. Oddly enough it doesn’t really tie into the overall Rebirth arc at all. The setup almost feels like an Elsewords Superman story, even thought they could easily set this in New 52 continuity if they wanted (or if it meets sales projections). The story was extremely predictable, and you can almost guess how the next six issues will play out. However, if they have the balls, this story could REALLY go in a different direction, like taking a political angle of how China is basically entering a superhero arms race to match the United States, but even IF it goes that route, I doubt it will be the main story.
Race Swapping Controversy
Of course, people won’t even read the book and are already triggered. Oh noes, an Asian Superman. Some will accuse DC of “shoving their agenda down our throats” while the SJW’s will defend the title, even though neither side know anything about the character. Here’s my take on this issue. Remember Superman: Red Son? It’s regarded as one of the greatest Superman stories ever created. If you didn’t have an issue with a Russian Superman, then why have an issue with a Chinese one? It’s just one of a 100 variations of Superman stories that has been told over the decades. If you only have a problem with the ones that aren’t white then you may have bigger issues to deal with than a comic book.
Overall this story isn’t even that memorable. Hate to say it, but it’ll be a miracle if this series makes it 12 issues. Honestly I feel they should have either made him a brand new character or vary his powers where he’s a different version of Superman. He literally has the exact same powers, so overall you feel like you’re reading the same hero, just in a different location. Half the fun of reading a superhero origin story is learning what kind of power he just received, but since we already know Superman’s powers we won’t get to share that experience with our new hero. They didn’t go far enough to distance themselves from the Superman we all know and love (or hate if you’re a Batman fan). It wasn’t a bad read, but the 2nd issue must be a LOT better to keep my attention, which is almost never the case.